COLLEGE PARK – The Michigan baseball team (34-11) completed a three-game sweep of Maryland, defeating the Terrapins 13-1 Sunday in College Park.
The Wolverines got off to a quick start, as left fielder Jordan Nwogu crushed the second pitch he saw for a towering home run to right center field. The sophomore has been a standout in the leadoff role for Michigan this season, hitting for a .341 batting average and a .568 slugging percentage.
“I loved the way Jordan Nwogu set the tone,” Michigan coach Erik Bakich said. “The first AB of the game with a home run – that was great to really kick-start our offense.”
The Terrapins responded quickly, though. Right fielder Randy Bednar scored on an RBI single from first baseman Maxwell Costes after he laced a single to left field and reached second on an error from Nwogu. Criswell was unshaken, though, as he struck out the next batter he faced to end the first inning and struck out the side in the bottom of the second.
The Wolverines took back the lead in the top of the third as Maryland pitcher Trevor LaBonte issued four-pitch walks to senior second baseman Ako Thomas and sophomore center fielder Jesse Franklin, hitting Nwogu in between to load the bases with nobody out. LaBonte then walked two runs in, issuing two more walks to junior right fielder Jordan Brewer and senior first baseman Jimmy Kerr, scoring Thomas and Nwogu and keeping the bases loaded with still no outs.
That was enough for Maryland coach Rob Vaughn to sit his starter, and after a 45-minute rain delay, left-hander Drew Wilden took the mound for the Terps. Wilden was effective, getting two outs quickly on a sacrifice fly from senior third baseman Blake Nelson that scored Franklin and a foul out from sophomore designated hitter Dominic Clementi before ending the inning by getting sophomore shortstop Jack Blomgren to strike out swinging.
“Definitely, we just took advantage of some free passes,” Bakich said. “We did a really good job just seeing a lot of pitches. We did draw a lot of walks and take a lot of hit-by-pitches today, and those were critical to those innings where we scored multiple runs.”
Michigan built its lead in the top of the fifth. With a southpaw on the mound for Maryland, Erik Bakich sat the left-handed Clementi for righty Miles Lewis, who hit a two-run pinch-hit home run with two outs to expand the Wolverines’ lead to 6-1.
They continued their tear in the top of the sixth. After a leadoff single from sophomore catcher Joe Donovan, Thomas and Nwogu took back-to-back walks to load the bases. A two-RBI double from Franklin scored Donovan and Thomas, and moments later, Brewer had a two-RBI double of his own to plate Nwogu and Franklin, bringing the score to 11-1. Brewer scored on an RBI single from Nelson, who scored on an error from Terrapin third baseman Taylor Wright. An RBI single from Donovan – his second hit of the inning – scored Blomgren to bring the game to 13-1 for the Wolverines before freshman second baseman Riley Bertram finally ended the inning by striking out swinging.
After the explosion of scoring in the sixth, the remainder of the contest was scoreless as both coaches sat most of their starters to give bench players some opportunities at the plate.
Overall, it was a successful road trip for the Wolverines, who stretched their lead in the Big Ten to three-and-a-half games against second-place Indiana, which they will face at home this weekend.
“I’m proud of the effort we had all weekend,” Bakich said. “I thought it was a very good pitching weekend, it was a very good defensive weekend, and obviously when you score 33 runs in three games – that’s just a lot of offense. It was a very complete weekend.”